Ice Climbing in Cold Stream Canyon

January 17

5:15AM Wake Up, Breakfast

5:35AM In the car, driving from Oakland to Truckee

8:12AM Arrive in Truckee, meet Frank. We leave Frank's truck at the bottom of the trail head (we're going one way from Sugar Bowl down to the ice, and out Cold Stream Canyon.)

8:30AM Pack up in Sugar Bowl parking lot. Today's high is forecast for the low 50's. It's sunny out, not a cloud in the sky. We're going light. One pair of axes. Frank skied in and climbed the previous day - the ice was in, but too thin to lead without scaring the crap out of yourself. We ditch screws and draws in the car. The only gear needed to TR are slings, 'biners, and two draws. There are trees at the top of the cliffs to anchor off, no need for rock gear. It's only getting warmer - I take a soft shell top and gore-tex bottoms.

9:15AM Skis on, packs on back, we're on the Jerome Hill lift at Sugar Bowl. We bought One - Jerome Hill/Lincoln passes for $15 each.

9:30AM Top of Sugar Bowl. It's a beautiful morning. Too bad the snow stinks. We ski back from Sugar Bowl. It's icy conditions - more survival skiing than fun skiing. I'm using a much-too-light Atomic Tour Cap Randonee setup. Frank is on Tele's.

10:45AM Top of the Cold Stream Ice cliffs. The ski down wasn't much fun, but far better (and faster !) than snowshoes.

11:00AM The first fall is a 50M WI3/3+. I rappel down with my skis. The ice is pretty solid, drippy to the right (north direction). A massive chunk at the bottom is cracked and broken, and refroze. I'm happy to not be leading. I'm recovering from a shoulder injury and I'm not supposed to be climbing anything.

12:30PM We move onto a route further south (climber's left) on the cliff. It's an easier WI3- or so. Good fun, mellow climbing.

2:15PM We wrap it up, hike down the gully on the northern part of the cliff. From the bottom we can see that the flow to the far left is formed, but thin - certainly harder stuff.

2:30PM We start the ski out. It's warming up - we're happy to be off the ice at this point. It felt like it was getting up into the 60's on the ski out. I was down to farmer-john soft shell and a poly pro.

4:00PM After an hour of fairly fun skiing (the sun softened the snow) and hiking, we're down. I never once put on my skins. I just polled the flats and walked the few short uphills.

A great day of climbing! Cold Stream is a great one day if you have a sunny day, you know where you're going, and can go light. One after thought is that if you're willing to TR or lead in your Randonee boots (leave your ice boot in the car), it would be a fairly light ski down and then out later. You can also fill up water from the creek if you have iodine.


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